On Sunday night, the seeding for the NFL playoff games was set in stone when the New York Giants soundly beat the Dallas Cowboys in a game that decided the NFC East division champions. Earlier that day, the San Francisco 49ers eked by the St. Louis Rams to maintain their second seed and first-round bye, while the Atlanta Falcons secured the fifth seed after their big win over Tampa Bay and the Detroit Lions’ loss to the Green Bay Packers.
With the regular season complete, we finally have a clear picture of how the playoffs could progress. Before continuing, though, here is a quick list of the final seeding for the NFC:
- Green Bay Packers (15-1)
- San Francisco 49ers (13-3)
- New Orleans Saints (13-3)
- New York Giants (9-7)
- Atlanta Falcons (10-6)
- Detroit Lions (10-6)
The rules dictate that, in each round of the playoffs, the lowest seeded team will travel to face the highest seed, while the second lowest seed will face the second highest. The lone exception is the first round, where the two highest seeds (the Packers and 49ers this year) get a bye for that week.
So in the Wildcard Round, the Lions will square off with the Saints in the Superdome, and the Falcons will travel to MetLife Stadium to take on the Giants. Green Bay and San Francisco will both have the weekend off.
Depending on the outcome of those games, the Packers will host the Giants, Falcons, or Lions at Green Bay’s very own Lambeau Field in the Divisional Round.
But have you noticed something yet? With the exception of the San Francisco 49ers, the Green Bay Packers faced (and beat) every other playoff team at some point during the regular season. Through those five games, having faced the Lions twice, the Packers won by a combined score of 177-139.
That leaves a total margin of victory of 38 points, or 7.6 points per game. Just over a touchdown.
Interestingly enough, last year’s Green Bay team also faced three familiar teams on their path to the Super Bowl. They played the Philadelphia Eagles in Week 1 and in the Wildcard Round, the Atlanta Falcons in Week 12 and the Divisional Round, and capped off their run in the NFC Championship Game against the Chicago Bears, who they of course faced twice during the season as a division opponent.